What do you consider a "broke" horse and what would you expect to pay for one?

I have recently been horse shopping again over the last couple months due to euthanizing my horse unexpectedly. Horses in MT have become somewhat expensive - compared to years past - and I have had conversations with many people and have noticed many differences on what people consider broke and what one expects to pay for them. Just curious what others think on the subject.

To me a “broke” horse ( not green or dead broke, just broke) is one that is good to handle on the ground, trailer, trim, tie etc and you can take out on the trail without any fuss. The horse will not be buddy/barn sour and bucking / bad spooks are unlikely. The horse will walk / trot / canter both directions and stand to be mounted. It will not necessarily have any training beyond that. I would expect to pay at least 5,000 for a 5 - 10 year old matching that description. More for more training / color / good breeding etc.

What do you consider broke and expect that horse to cost??


I pretty much agree on what you consider a broke horse to be. A few exceptions and only because it depends on what the horse is being trained to do. Some horses don’t get much time out of an arena depending on where in the world you are at. They can still be well broke and never set foot on a trail, or not be suitable as trail mounts.

Many horses who are actually well broke still suffer from the anxiety issues that cause buddy / barn sour issues . Even well broke horses can/ will spook on the rare occasion given the right circumstances.

Bucking/ rearing/ bolting etc are not acceptable in any phase of training.

I have gotten all my dead broke horses for waaaaaay less than $5,000 and I would think that with what you expect to get you should be able to find a horse in that price range. It may not be as easy as it once was.

I would agree with your definition, but many I am seeing being sold, for a lot of money, no where near match it.

I have been casually looking the last few months and prices seem sky high ridiculous to me. I’ve looked at Dreamhorse.com, and about died at some of the prices on there. I’ve also been watching Craig’s List and a local sale page similar to Craig’s List, and am seeing crazy numbers for just started horses who have done nothing.

One thing I would recommend if you are willing to take a well started, younger horse that is not yet broke, broke, broke but on its way to that, and reasonably priced is buying through a university auction. Universities with equine science programs usually have auctions of the foals they produce. Many times they are well started, have seen a lot and are very well bred. University of Wisconsin River Falls, Kansas State University, and Penn State are just a few.

I have a horse from Penn State, and he is one of the best horses I have ever owned. You almost cannot scare him as he grew up across from the football stadium and had seen everything from marching bands to drunks to fireworks.


Broke means whatever the person writing the ads wants it to mean.

Many high energy performance horses especially English sport horses are highly trained but retain a capacity for explosive moments especially when worked at speed.

On the other hand many Western Trail horses have little advanced schooling but are quiet and dependable.

If you are horse shopping you need to make your own list of requirements and then figure out how to test the horses you try out.


I sold one in October, registered MFT, pretty, sound, also had experience with obstacle training. Not a show horse. He sold for $8k before I even put him on the market.

A solid trail horse with miles and no “issues” is not that common a beast.


For all of that: 10k locally, if you can find a horse like that.

Less if you will take older or soundness issues

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First, this is posted In the endurance/trail section, therefore “broke” should not include horses broke to any sort of competition. It also should not include horses who spend most of their lives in an arena and think “trail riding” is twice around the farm.

Second, I am going to qualify by saying there is no way this side of Hades and back I would pay 5K for a horse because I have either trained nearly all of my trail horses or finished them, throughout my life.

If I were that dumb, the horse had better be county road and state highway traffic broke and be sensible enough to tolerate costumes hanging off it in some sort of parade.

That said, my first beloved TWH (RIP Duke) met all that criteria, he had more sense in his head than a lot of people I know, and there was not enough money on this earth to buy him. He was a big motored horse and would not have appealed to those looking for “bombproof” but the kicker is that his big motored self was more “bombproof” than many of his more quiet laid back buds, lollol

I have had different breeds & crosses and different personalities, with different spook factors. They were (and are) all great trail horses, some excelling more in THIS than in THAT.

A big price tag does not always mean a better horse in the world of trail riding. First and foremost the horse has to be a good thinker.


When my friend was looking for a first horse, I saw that a solid ranch broke young adult QH gelding from upcountry here would be about $5000. That’s not super cheap here. But it’s a bargain if you get a solid safe go anywhere horse with good conformation.

Yes, if you have the training skills you can make your own broke horse. But if you don’t, you either have endless trouble or you pay someone to do it.

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OP what you are describing as “broke”, I would call “finished” or “made”.

To me, broke is almost like started. The horse tolerates a rider, responds to aids, gives new experiences a try, and isn’t pushy on the ground. All the other things come with work and handling and encouragement: loading, clips, new sights and sounds. And they can be a little bit personal or interactive i.e. someone trying to yank on the “broke” horse’s mouth might get resistance, and someone yelling and swatting might also.

The truly saintly horse you describe in your original post is a gem, and a product of good handling and positive reinforcement. And that horse is probably worth 8-12K in most parts of the U.S. More in the wealthier parts.


I am like this too and train my own but I made an exception:

I paid $1000 for an 8 year old( not described as but was actually bombproof) gorgeous grade pinto gelding for my 3 kids. He wasn’t even listed for sale but was owned by some people down the road who’s kids had outgrown his predictable personality.

Not only did my kids do great with him, Our pastor’s horse crazy teen came out and rode him all over and I actually had a blast on him myself when all I wanted was a no stress jaunt around the crop ground. He was a breath of fresh air from the 2 young horses I was bringing along for myself.

He would be priceless in todays market.

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I think this is a little too vague. I know plenty of broke horses but there’s no way in hell I’d expect to take them trail riding by themselves and expect them to be perfect because being broke and being trail riding broke are not the same thing at all.

What you’re describing is closer to bombproof than broke IMO. Also I think your expectations are totally dependent on your abilities. My horse for example does all of the things you described and I can easily take her for a trail ride by myself with minimal to no shenanigans, however that’s not going to be the case with a novice rider.

To us, yes. Sale ads? No.


I’ve been window shopping on equine now for trail horses and 6-8K seems to be the general ballpark figures for a horse that is decently broke. To me a well broke trail horse is one that loads, trailers, tacks, leads, stands to be mounted, and can go out on the trail alone or in a group without too many issues. My twenty something Arab lease mare is considered trail broke but she’s barn sour, bites when grooming- if you get daydreamy or careless and not paying attention she’ll nail you, won’t stand on her own for mounting (she will if someone holds her), sometimes she will buck and cow-kick during mounting (I got after her for that and she hasn’t done it since our Come To Jesus meeting). But out on the trail she’s a lovely lively girl who is super supple and soft amd responsive, always ready for a good gallop even at her age, and doesn’t spook at anything even when other horses are getting bug eyed and jumpy.

Maybe shopping further from home and paying for shipping would be more wallet friendly if home is too expensive? I guess it’s all about coming as close as you can to the dead broke unicorn, knowing what things you won’t/ can’t compromise on and the quirks and issues you can deal with/ learn to live with.

For a trail horse I consider broke meaning they can loose rein walk/trot/canter alone or in a group setting, lead or get left behind, stand quietly at stops, stand at the trailer, and load well. That takes time and I don’t begrudge someone for charging for their time and skills.

A good friend of mine was looking for this type of broke trail horse. She wanted shorter and late teens since it was for a totally green adult rider. She looked in a Tri state area for almost four months and struggled to find anything sound under $5k. I think it’s pretty regional but in this area of the south most trail horses are second careers or as an add on to their performance skills. This elevates the base price. I do see $1.5-3.5k horses listed around here but they are either directly from the track or come from places where I’d have real reservations about the horse being of sound mind and body.


I agree normally with the $5k price for what the OP wants. But in my area, you’ll be looking at $7500 to $15k. Even for a grade, broke but not fancy broke horse.

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That is what I have been finding in our area, was not the case several years ago though. I ended up buying a couple horses out of ND that will be delivered today.


Reading this thread I want to say I’m surprised at the prices. I had no idea my two horses were that valuable, especially the TWH. My OTTB is great in company, but a little unsure alone. The TWH goes alone or in company. Both basically solid citizens, but neither are for beginners.

I got the TB as a 4 year old for FREE out of a rough situation shortly after she left the track. The TWH was given to me as an unbroke 3 yr old by a friend of mine that pulled her out of a bad situation as a weanling or yearling (not sure of the exact timing).

I did my own training and now at 12 and 14 (do to craziness in my life they sat for a few years) I have two awesome horses.


When people marvel at how expensive a horse like this can cost, and say they have trained up much less expensive horses… I always wonder what they would ask for these horses if they needed to sell them. My guess is somewhere near the cost of an “expensive” one. But prices do vary a LOT depending where you live.

I also agree that people who have the skills to buy the right unbroke or green broke horse and train it up themselves have a real gift, and sometimes forget that a lot of the rest of us don’t have that gift.


I agree with you. I haven’t horse shopped in a very long time and had no idea what the current prices are. I also haven’t had one for sale.

I am very thankful I am in a position to train my own horses and I have my own place so I can keep them very reasonably.

Wow I posted about what to ask for my horse on another thread and since he has only 1 bad habit which is pounding in the trailer when you arrive someplace but not when driving. Otherwise he is gorgeous , 4 yrs professional training, truly dead broke no spook, wonderful TWH gaits , and a real pet my big dog but no crowding or bad manners.Perfect ground manners. Goes alone or with a group. completely sound .
At 14 I thought he isn’t worth that much but now after reading this thread I’m not sure. Yes he is not replacable , only considering selling due to health issues .Heartbreaking but too good a horse for pasture ornament and I have two oldies I must keep age 30 and 20.

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I would pay extra for this!